US Dept. of Interior cancels sale of land inside Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, called ‘small victory’

SALT LAKE CITY — A group advocating to protect Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is pleased with a decision by the Department of the Interior to prevent the sale of 1600 acres of land inside the previous boundaries of the Monument.

The land is part of the 900,000 acres President Trump ordered to be stripped of National Monument status.

“We think that’s a good thing for the American public to not have the sale of our federal lands,” said Stephen Bloch, Legal Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

The Salt Lake Tribune first reported the Interior Department was caught off guard by the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to sell the land and pushed back in a memo sent on Friday. The Tribune is a news sharing partner with FOX13.

Advocates for the National Monument believe this is a small victory.

“We feel like this is a blip,” Bloch said.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has filed a lawsuit against the President’s order to shrink the National Monument.

“In those 900,000 acres that were slashed from the Grand Staircase, they would be open for things like mining, for oil and gas leasing, for off-road vehicle use,” Bloch said.

The group believes losing those protections will cause irreparable harm and will proceed with their litigation.

“We are confident we are going to win and when that happens, this entire effort will be for naught.